Real Wedding Inspiration: Wedding Planning with Blogger, Melissa Victoria

I love sharing real wedding inspiration with you guys, because I know how every engaged couple is looking for something different. A bunch of real weddings we have planned have been showcased on this wedding blog before, and just like you, I always want something different.
Real Weddings show our readers the final product, but what about the months leading up to it? I chatted with lifestyle blogger, Melissa Victoria, about her upcoming wedding and she gave me plenty of details! If you’re planning your wedding, check out what a fellow fiance had to say, including the one (and only) trend she plans to use for her big day!
Wedding blog with wedding planning inspiration
Courtesy of Melissa Victoria

Melissa Victoria, Lifestyle Blogger

I first found Melissa on Instagram (so shocking, right?) and instantly fell in love with her style. Of course, she’s a California girl, because I always fall in love with West Coast brides and their wedding style….or style in general. When I saw that she was getting married, I had to know more about the big day. 
Let me just say that I tend to fall for the bloggers that radiate “real”. There are about 2 bazillion bloggers out there, and sometimes I feel like I am seeing the same person over and over again. It’s that “my life is perfect, buy this product” smile in their pictures that works for so many bloggers and yet makes me want to basically die. Because no one is that happy all of the time and can you please calm down OMG?!

bridesmaid tote bag bride handbag
 

But Melissa makes you smile when you look at the pictures of her smiling. Her stories are fun and you basically want to just hang out with her. As a wedding planner, I pride myself on the fact that I don’t work with brides I wouldn’t want to hang out with. Bridezillas is a show, not my life…generally. Between her fun style and her intense realness, I had to know more about her wedding details.
And I have to say…none of her answers disappointed. In fact, many had me saying “really?!”, but in a good way. Because she’s different than other bloggers and guess what? That makes her different from so many other brides. Thank. The. Lord.

The Basics

Melissa and Martin got engaged on November 12, 2017 during their weekend trip to Big Bear. Since I was not that bride that had her nails done every week (just in case of a proposal), nor did my fiance have a photographer on stand-by, I had to ask if she was surprised by the proposal. I figured that a style blogger with a huge following would have figured out all the details before her now fiance got down on one knee, but nope!
Engagement ring picture
Gabelli Studio
“Looking back, there were SO many signs of him wanting to propose all weekend long, so when he finally did, it was so special.”
And I love that. Because it used to be (listen to how old I sound, wow) about a man getting down on one knee, pulling out a ring and we’re done. Now, it’s drone footage, surprise family appearances and fireworks. While I love the idea of having that special moment captured by a photographer, I am not in love with the whole “hiring a proposal planner” thing. This isn’t to take away from anyone’s proposal, but I personally like this step to be as basic as possible.


 

Anyway, back to Melissa and Martin! Their big day is February 9, 2019, which means their engagement period is about a year and change. As a wedding planner, I swoon over year long plus engagements…especially when the “must have” wedding date is during the most popular time of the year. Over a year gives you time to enjoy the engagement and get the venue and vendors that you want because everyone isn’t already booked.

The Details

Melissa and Martin decided not to plan anything for the remainder of 2017. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? In late 2017 they visited a spot two blocks away from Martin’s job and fell head over heels for it. Despite the whole “no planning in 2017” promise, they locked their venue down in December that year.
Wedding escort card table
Images by Berit
I am sure many of you will just glaze over that like it’s not a big deal. But I want to emphasize that it actually is. When you get engaged, you’re likely to put together some sort of timeline to get stuff done. Sometimes, the perfect venue or vendor will come along at what you decided was the wrong time. I love that Melissa and Martin didn’t turn this place down because it didn’t fit their planning timeline. Take their lead and if you find the venue or vendor before you’re “supposed” to, don’t be afraid to lock it down!
Their guest count sits around 200 people, which seems to be the average for weddings right now. Most of the couples we plan weddings with are inviting anywhere from 150-250 people. If you’re still looking for the perfect venue, it’s super important to get your guest list together before shopping. You don’t want to fall in love with a wedding venue, only to find out it doesn’t fit the guest count you’re inviting.


 

Melissa has put together plenty of ideas and details, and yes, that includes her wedding gown. Since she is a style blogger, I absolutely had to ask her about this! Of all the celebrity wedding inspiration available to brides, she was struck by Olivia Palermo’s wedding style, which included chic long sleeve gowns.
Bride in long sleeve lace gown
Jason Rhee
Not unlike many of my brides, Melissa tried on about 10 dresses and went to 2 different stores before finding the one. I always tell my brides that they will know when they’ve found the right gown (and venue and vendors), and Melissa shares how she knew:
“In the end, I went with something I know what meant for me.”
And it’s true…just like your fiance is meant for you, everything else will be during the wedding planning process.

Wedding Day Vibes

With a February wedding date, the winter wedding season is well underway. But between the obsession with pale colors, and her ever enviable California location, I wondered if she wouldn’t have a wedding full of rose golds, creams and pinks. And as a style blogger, where does she turn for inspiration?
Bride and groom
Justin Tinapay
As much as brides are always looking for something different for their wedding day, many tend to do the same exact thing they have seen everyone else do. Different is scary and if everyone else is doing a mix of muted colors, it’s hard not to play it safe. Well, I was extremely excited to find out that this trendy fashion blogger is not playing it safe, but instead, playing with deep colors mixed in with neutrals. 
Let the church say “Amen!”

Give the perfect travel gift - a Honeyfund gift card
 

Along with their fabulous color palette, Melissa and Martin are going for a vintage feel to go with their old Hollywood glam wedding venue. Their wedding party consists of six bridesmaids and groomsmen, but their wardrobe is at different stages. The idea of keeping the bridesmaids in different gowns is something Melissa loves and already has ideas about. But, remember how I said she was totally real? Well, when I asked her about the groomsmen wardrobe she said:
“Martin has a few colors he likes, so he needs to crank that out ASAP haha.”
Sound familiar ladies?
Sparkler exit at wedding
Jessica Janae

Searching For Inspiration

Wedding inspiration available on the internet can legit drown a bride. With countless wedding websites available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with ideas only to end up hating them all. So, where does a style blogger turn for her own wedding day inspiration?
red rose
Justin Tinapay
Just like any other bride, Melissa turns to Pinterest and Instagram for wedding ideas. As a wedding planner, we book with many of our clients because they found us on either one of those social media sites and I love finding new ideas and vendors on them as well.
But I know what you’re thinking…you’re always on Pinterest and you keep seeing the same damn thing every day. Right? Hashtags and keywords are your friend and foe. When searching for wedding inspiration, it’s important to be more specific in your searches because “Winter Wedding” is going to turn up a bunch of stuff that you don’t like. Hashtags work on both sites, but Pinterest just brought them back, so a keyword search is a better option. Keep your search general enough so you don’t miss out on creative ideas, but specific enough so that you’re not seeing starfish decor for your barn wedding.
“I love to look up my venue’s location on Instagram every Sunday to see what the previous night’s event looked like.”
Maybe you haven’t found your venue yet, and maybe you have. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a few (or 40) in mind…so use the venue’s social media profile and hashtag to see what other couples have done. It’s not about copying their style, but more about seeing what does (and doesn’t) work. That goes double for those of you that have found your wedding venue!

Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts
 

Trends and Have to Haves

When you basically live on social media, it can be hard to plan an event. You’ve seen it all, and the trends might be less “trendy” and more “played out” by the time your wedding day rolls around. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though it did, that Melissa only has one trend she wants to incorporate for her wedding day:
“A hashtag. I’m a social media chick, so obviously, this has to be part of our wedding.”
Social media chick, or not, hashtags have become a major part of weddings. When the idea first came about, it was largely seen as only good for those that were obsessed with social media. In reality, both then and now, it’s a great way to keep your photos all in the same place. What good are those random pictures your friends and family took if you never see them? 
wedding sweetheart table
Domenick Michael
Just like many other engaged couples, Melissa and Martin want to incorporate their faith into their wedding day. As a wedding planner, this is something I see most couples decide on, but many struggle with.  It could be anything from coming from different religious backgrounds to wanting a religious ceremony outside of a religious house, and thousands of other possibilities in between. The only thing that matters here, is that you and your fiance celebrate your marriage in a ceremony that means the most to the both of you. 
What else matters to Melissa and Martin? Two words: Open. Bar.
“We knew we wanted an open bar because duh- the best memories always include an open bar!”
Truer words have never been spoken.

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

More and more, traditional aspects of a wedding are disappearing. Couples are making their wedding a reflection of their relationship by using cake pops instead of wedding cake and having that first look happen long before the walk down the aisle. There are very few rules when it comes to a wedding anymore, so if you’re a trendy fashion blogger getting married, what rules are you following?

black and white photo of bride and groom

The bouquet and garter toss have been put on ice by most of our engaged couples. Honestly though, I miss them both and I pretty much thought I was stuck in the “not cool old person” past by still loving the idea. Leave it to Melissa though, to remind me how awesome and trendy I still am (woot woot), when she told me how they will be incorporating this tradition into their wedding day! Along with that, they will have their special parent dances, but are on the fence about the grand entrance for the entire wedding party; another tradition we’re starting to see fade away.
I asked Melissa if they planned on making their heritage a part of the wedding day. My engaged couples are always looking for that something different, but sometimes that something different has been done for centuries that many couples aren’t doing anymore. Their ceremony taking place in a Catholic Church has to do, in part, with their Latin heritage. But in addition to incorporating their religion, their guests will also enjoy other Latin traditions like the lasso ceremony. The wedding ceremony is a great opportunity to celebrate your traditions in a new way as you begin your new life together!
wedding rope ceremony
Justin Tinapay
What about the structure and the rules? Should you tell your guests what the dress code is, or is that no longer acceptable? What about kids at the wedding? There are so many wedding etiquette blogs, with rules that have been written and re-written for decades. Between those and all the endless “helpful” advice brides and grooms get from friends and family, it’s not easy to keep it all together. 
“I would say to do things the way you want to do them. There will be so many previously married people that will tell you all about their experience and what you should do, but no one knows your heart the way you do.”
As difficult as it can be, it’s important to listen to the voices of two people: you and your fiance. When you plan a wedding, trust me, everyone in your life will become an expert. Your BFF that just got married and suddenly knows everything and your Aunt Sally that got married 700 years ago and also knows everything…No one can change the fact that you will know when you found the right venue and the right vendors. It’s the first day of the rest of your lives, and it’s really important to start it off with your own decisions. 


 

Just like any other bride, Melissa can share the worst part of wedding planning she’s gone through. And just like many brides, that worst part had a lot to do with herself. While she recognized the “I can do it myself” part of her, she worried about being too picky. If you’re that bride that can’t (or won’t) let her guard down and won’t trust her vendors, you are not alone here. Melissa shared that she is really a hands on bride and that trusting others was something she had a really hard time with. 
 I told you she was real…
“I think I’m worried about vendors backing out or not showing up on time.”
Every bride worries about her wedding day, and that is completely normal. It doesn’t mean things won’t go as planned; it just means you’re normal. It’s OK to let yourself worry and to vent about completely ridiculous things going wrong that would never ever happen. Surround yourself with supportive people during your engagement process, people that will let you lean on their shoulders…just don’t forget that they have problems of their own that they made need your shoulder for!
bride and groom spelling LOVE
Justin Tinapay

Your Day. Yours.

A wedding day (can) come with a lot of rules. Rules that are set by you and your fiance, rules set by you before you even meet your fiance, rules by your friend and family, and rules set by all those blogs and magazines you read. The thing is, there are no rules anymore. What was a rule 20 years ago, is only a rule if you want it to be. You get one day to wear the dress you want to wear, to say the vows you want to say and to dance to the songs you want to dance to.
I loved interviewing Melissa for this blog, because I expected a style blogger to follow the rules and that’s totally not her. I thought she would be incorporating every wedding trend under the California sun. But really, she is having the only type of wedding that should be trending:
Her own.
Hashtag You Should Too.
Bride and groom save the date
Courtesy of Melissa Victoria
Thanks to Melissa for taking the time to chat with me about your big day! If you want to read more about her planning process, follow along on her blog right here! Don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list in the top banner to get more stories like this one, plus plenty more real weddings inspiration.
What wedding rules and trends are you following and breaking for your own wedding day? Share in the comments below and let your own voice be heard!

 

 

Breaking News: Alpacas Officially Not Cool Anymore

Style Me Pretty has been a source of wedding inspiration for 12 years now. Back before wedding websites were a dime a dozen, Style Me Pretty represented a more organic wedding style that would eventually become a trend. Phrases like “rustic chic” and “boho” became popular with a major assist from Style Me Pretty. If you like barn weddings, you’re likely on the wedding website every day.

But with the extinction of Style Me Pretty after April 30, 2018, will we also find out that flower draped alpacas aren’t cool anymore? What does this website take with it once it goes dark later this month? How does this impact the wedding industry? 

And is this really a bad thing?

The Fairytale

Once upon a time, a girl created a website full of whimsy. Years later, she sold it to a huge corporation for a bunch of money. Turmoil raged through the land, there was a whole bunch of corporate merger madness and the website went up for sale. No one bought the website and the big scary corporation shut it down. The end.
Not exactly the happily ever after ending, if you consider the corporation being the villain. But, are they?
My husband and I were discussing the story this week and he said something that I have heard before: Businesses are made to be sold. While I understand that to be true, at this moment in time, I could never see myself as a person that creates a business just to sell it. Maybe it’s just not how my character works.
Or maybe I’ve just never had a multi-million dollar offer and a chance to make that decision.
Bridal bouquet
Alicia King Photography
But it’s pretty cut and dry, isn’t it? If you sell something, you are giving it up. You don’t have any control over it anymore and in essence you are choosing the money over what you created. That’s not to say you won’t always have some attachment to the business, but if you care about what happens to it, you wouldn’t sell it. 
In this particular fairytale, our leading character was repeating history. Prior to Style Me Pretty being born, the creator went from having a part time job at a stationery store to creating her own invitation line…which she then sold. The reason why she sold isn’t hard to find, and she basically talks about the stress and an opportunity landing in her lap in an article you can read right here
Later in that article, she shares that she received a buy-out offer for Style Me Pretty. But not the offer she would later accept from the corporation that would shut everything down. Instead, it’s an offer that she rejected because, as she states,  “what we were doing had more value than we knew.”

Start your FREE honeymoon registry at Honeyfund.com
 

Fast forward 8 years, when Style Me Pretty’s continued huge growth leads to a partnership with a corporate company…and eventually the buy-out offer, in May 2017, that would be accepted. Not just accepted, but seen as the “proudest day of her career” according to this interview

 

Growing Pains

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

― Anaïs Nin

The announcement that Style Me Pretty will essentially disappear was bigger breaking wedding news this week than any royal wedding ever will be. Emotions and opinions are really strong, and if I’m being honest, I don’t have mine completely sorted out yet.
bride and groom
Domenick Michael Photography
My work has been published in Style Me Pretty, and I still remember the joy I felt when that happened. Not all publications or wedding blogs are created equal. Style Me Pretty is a bucket list publication for many, including myself. There’s no denying the high level quality of work displayed, so feeling validated when they decide your work is good enough to be included, is normal. 
The problem though, is that those people validating you, aren’t the ones hiring you. Not then and not now.
When Style Me Pretty created a vendor listing, it was invitation only. Yes, you had to pay to advertise, but you weren’t even given the opportunity if your work wasn’t up to their standards. It used to be a big deal to get invited into their “little black book”. If you’re outside the industry, just imagine that for a second: Wedding vendors getting excited that they are good enough to give their money to an advertising platform. 
The thought process behind advertising (or not) in any wedding outlet revolves around return of investment. You put your advertising dollars into the platform that speaks to your “ideal” client. Frankly, Style Me Pretty couples are the ideal client for a good amount of wedding vendors. So between the ego validation and the higher chance of getting your portfolio in front of the clients you want to book, many would’ve gladly thrown money to be on this website. And then bragged about it. 
So, it should come as no surprise that many are devastated by this news. I understand it on paper, absolutely, but I can’t quite get there emotionally. 
Bridal bouquet
Jessica Janae Photography
It’s weird because, you feel like you’re supposed to be mourning. And you’re sad, but you’re not totally sad. It’s almost like when you go to a repast after a funeral. You just put somebody that you love into the ground and you’re never seeing them again. But now, you’re sitting over one of three pre-selected entrees with other family members talking about the good old days and laughing. You’re thinking how you just said your final goodbyes to someone and how devastated you are, so how can you be talking and laughing?
I remember my first funeral was when I was four years old. I was downstairs during the wake because this funeral home was some weird bi-level unit and wakes are really long and when you’re four you have to stay as long as your mom says you have to stay. Anyway…I’m downstairs with a few family members of mine, and just above my head on the second floor was a dead relative. At four years old you don’t really get the concept of death, but what you do know is that it’s sad and therefore, people will cry.
Yet this entire time I’m standing in the random basement of a funeral home, during a wake, and no one is crying. In fact, they are joking, laughing and telling stories. Meanwhile, all I knew was that someone was dead and you’re supposed to be crying. But you’re not.
That’s me with this whole Style Me Pretty death thing. I’m not crying. But this time, I shouldn’t be. And you shouldn’t be either.
Why?


 

Just like anything else, Style Me Pretty changed as the growth continued. The Style Me Pretty that used to get wedding vendors the bulk of their work, is not the one going dark at the end of the month. That one went dark years agoThat funeral is over.
I say this with the absolute and utmost respect for the website and everyone that has been a part of it: the mourning period is done. 
The wedding website that handpicked the vendors that were allowed to pay them to advertise, hasn’t been around for years. When their little black book was selective, you might have found 3 wedding planners in your area when doing a search. But now? There are so many planners listed that you can filter it down to categories like “elopement planners”. Those are just the vendors that are paying to be showcased. I’m not even going to bother figuring out the vendors getting free advertising on their “Vendor Guide” platform, including myself. 
bride and groom
Justin Tinapay Photography
Another change? There are roughly 900 other wedding blogs and websites out there now, many with vendor listings. Is Style Me Pretty still one of the best, even after the corporate change? Absolutely. So why should you still not be crying?
Because your ideal client isn’t there anymore. They haven’t been there since AOL got involved and they’ve been cheating on you with social media. You’ve been chasing the ghost of ideal wedding client past.


 

AOL presents, Style Me Pretty. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I mean, all the sports stadiums and arenas are named after banks and big companies. I’m sure the higher ups at MetLife know how to throw a football right? (That’s a Giants Stadium reference for anyone that missed it).
AOL and its parent company know nothing about the wedding industry and more importantly, they don’t care. Corporations with portfolios so diversified that none of the companies they own have anything in common do not care. Corporations that own similar companies, only care enough to buy and shut down the one making less money in order to cut competition. 
Businesses are created to be bought and sold, remember?
The point is, corporate got involved, and it’s not the same anymore. Style Me Pretty grew up when you weren’t looking, and the validation you still need from them, has devalued. 

Life Goes On

There are a significant amount of people in the wedding industry involved in a petition to save Style Me Pretty. A petition that is being endorsed by the website’s creator and original owner. Despite the extreme amount of respect I have for both the creator and the website in general, I have to question this move. 
Vintage wedding set up for a dessert table
Alicia King Photography
And while I firmly believe that unless those signatures are on a stack of cash, that this is a waste of time, I’m going to link it anyway to play fair. Hopefully, if you’re a wedding vendor that wants to rip my head off right now, you can take this as my olive branch of understanding your pain. I am not, in any way, trying to mock or dismiss anyone’s feelings.
This week has brought intense debate of whether or not it will matter to future couples that the vendors they interview for their weddings were once upon a time featured by Style Me Pretty. The answer is “no”. It won’t matter if you were never published on Style Me Pretty or if you were featured every week since day 1.
Look how quickly major and devastating news stories are forgotten. This website shutdown didn’t even trend on Twitter. If Style Me Pretty actually disappears from the internet like the corporate owners have promised, people will stop caring much sooner than you think. The website, the hashtag, and everything else will cease to exist. Hell, this blog probably won’t make sense in what? A year? Less?
But it’s more than the website being erased from the internet. It’s about the growth of the website that didn’t match the evolution of the engaged couples. 


 

There’s nothing on that site that engaged couples are looking for anymore. 
Style Me Pretty was Pinterest before Pinterest. Style Me Pretty was the wedding blog before wedding blogs existed. But Pinterest isn’t going anywhere, and new wedding blogs are added every day. The market is extremely saturated, so why on earth would you want to save a website that doesn’t give engaged couples what they are actually looking for?
I said that the funeral for Style Me Pretty was years ago because that’s when their format changed. Marketing in the wedding industry (and I assume others) has also changed since then. But if you’re not changing, if you’re not going through that same growth that Style Me Pretty went through, then your funeral might be next. 
Style Me Pretty got it right with the rustic and organic style wedding trend. The reason that trend, that style, hasn’t died is because it can evolve and change. It is a niche that will survive because of it’s ability to adapt.
The lack of authenticity on “Style Me Pretty brought to you by AOL”, is where they went wrong. And it’s that same lack of authenticity that is present on all major wedding blogs and websites, that is unappealing to couples. This entire world is desperate for authenticity and real connections. You know when people are really desperate? When they’re planning their wedding, a celebration where they will announce to those closest to them that they found their soulmate. That’s when authenticity wins.
Go figure, right?
Vintage white dresser with flowers
Alicia King Photography
And that’s the trend that matters. It’s not about the alpacas as much as it’s about the authenticity. 
It’s growth and it’s painful. No one really likes change and everyone gets annoyed with big corporation take overs. Style Me Pretty grew up, went into a coma, and then Uncle AOL pulled the life support plug. This wasn’t the first wedding blog to go down, and it won’t be the last.
Whether the website is archived or obliterated at the end of the month will not affect your business growth. Wedding vendors no longer need to depend on huge blogs to define who they are. The validation of your work comes from the engaged couples, which is where it should have come from all along. If you’re not authentic, you are irrelevant.
And it’s about damn time.
bride
Style Me Pretty goes dark and what that means for wedding inspiration, engaged couples and members of the wedding industry. Read this blog for everything you need to know!

Real Wedding: A Garden Celebration

A real garden wedding with two ceremonies and plenty of culture, is exactly what our couple Chelsea and Yaw were looking for. Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey, provided the perfect backdrop for their wedding day. Their chic celebration was filled with happiness and joy, as they were surrounded by 160 of their closest friends and family.

This chic real wedding took place at a romantic Princeton venue with a restaurant reception complete with amazing food and endless dancing. See all the details of this swoon-worthy garden wedding we planned and get inspired for your own wedding day!

The Manhattan based couple got ready in their respective hotel rooms before traveling to the venue for their first look. The bride wearing a form fitting gown was the picture of elegance, while her handsome groom rocked an ivory tuxedo jacket against a white shirt and black bow-tie. His boutineer was simple and complimented her romantic all white bouquet, created by our friends at Twisted Willow Flowers.

An all white chic bridal bouquet was the perfect look for our gorgeous bride at her garden wedding. Read the blog to see all the details of this amazing Princeton wedding day we planned!

With countless locations available for their first look at Grounds for Sculpture, Chelsea and Yaw had no problem taking plenty of pictures before their ceremonies. Once Yaw was in place, we walked with our beautiful bride and helped keep the spectators from photo-bombing this special moment. 

The first look at a wedding has to be perfectly timed and in a great location. Check out this garden wedding we planned and how we kept the public from photobombing this romantic moment!

After the first look photo was completed, it was only a few steps to the next location to continue taking photos with our bride and groom. Thankfully, the late summer heat didn’t bother them and the anticipated thunderstorms disappeared before they even happened.

A breathtaking garden wedding at Grounds for Sculpture that we planned for this New York City couple. Read the blog to get the wedding day details and see the chic photos from this celebration!

Once the bride and groom completed their portraits, it was time to include the parents and wedding party. With the groomsmen dressed in formal black tuxedos, the bridesmaids stood out in different dresses that complimented their individual looks. 
A chic garden wedding at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey with white and green details to die for! Read the blog for wedding day inspiration!
After the pictures were completed, the bride and groom, along with their entire wedding party, headed back inside to change for the first ceremony. To honor the groom’s Ghanaian heritage, along with the wardrobe change was a ceremony infused with music and tradition. 

A Ghanaian ceremony in this real garden wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton New Jersey. See all the details and chic photos from the wedding day in this blog!Amazing details from this Ghanaian ceremony at Grounds for Sculpture. Check out the chic and gorgeous wedding day photos from this garden wedding we planned for our New York City bride and groom!Music for this Ghanaian ceremony honored the heritage of the groom. Check out all of the details from this garden wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture!

Immediately following the Ghanaian ceremony, all of the guests moved to another location so the Western ceremony could begin. Our bride and groom, along with their wedding party, quickly changed out of their Ghanaian garb and back into the traditional clothing they wore for the first look photos. A stunning ceremony and heartfelt vows followed in this amazing space decorated with simple greenery and elegant garden touches. 

A traditional garden ceremony at Grounds for Sculpture complete with elegant and chic florals in white and green. Read more about this wedding on our blog!

Boho chic and totally romantic ceremony florals for a summer wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture in Princeton. Read the blog to get inspired for your own garden wedding day!

After the two beautiful ceremonies, our couple and their guests headed to Rat’s Restaurant inside Grounds for Sculpture. Guests were treated to a beautiful stroll through the gardens and exhibits along the way, and were greeted by live music and an outdoor and indoor cocktail hour.

Incredible food provided by our friends at Starr Events during a Grounds for Sculpture wedding we planned. Check out the blog for all of the garden wedding details!

Touches of greenery adorned the bars, and the mix of round and long tables were classically designed with white floor length linens, gorgeous garden roses and plenty of candlelight. For an extra treat, guests were able to spend the night dancing under the stars with a unique floor plan designed by our bride and groom.

We used greenery throughout this gorgeous outdoor wedding space to bring together the chic organic feel our bride and groom wanted. Read the blog to get all of the details about this garden wedding day!

A boho chic and rustic upscale wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture included floor length white linens and plenty of white roses, greenery and candlelight. Read the blog for more details about this amazing garden wedding.
The wedding ended with a packed dance floor and heavenly red velvet cake that looked like it grew out of the garden, thanks to our talented friends at Twisted Willow Flowers. Once the party ended, our couple escaped in a vintage convertible Rolls Royce that our friends at RPD All Star provided for them to attend their after party!

This gorgeous boho chic wedding cake was perfect for a garden summer wedding we planned at Grounds for Sculpture. Check out the white and green details in the blog and get inspired for your own wedding day!

We loved planning and designing with Chelsea and Yaw to help them create the classic and chic wedding they were looking for. Between the unique venue, the culture and tradition, along with incredible decor and design, this is one wedding we’ll never forget!
Congratulations Chelsea and Yaw!

The Rest of the Real Wedding Planning Checklist

Welcome to the rest of the real wedding planning checklist. If you missed the first part, make sure you read this first!

In Part 1, I talked about some bigger items like selecting your wedding venue and hiring your photographer, band and of course, wedding planner. In this part of the blog, I will finish off the rest of the wedding planning checklist and tell you when to book everything from lighting to restroom trailers.

Lighting and Other Décor

What your lighting will look like will depend on what your venue offers. If you’re working with a venue with an in-house lighting designer, then their availability is less of a priority than if you were to bring an outside vendor in. That said, as a designer, I like to handle all of the aesthetic components at the same time since they all work together. This means lighting is done on the earlier side.

If you’re looking for basic lighting features like wall washes and monograms and you’ve booked a DJ, there’s a strong possibility that they can handle those features. However, if you’re looking for things like pin-spots and hung lights, then a lighting designer is essential.

How to create your wedding planning checklist whether you're getting married in 2 minutes, 2 months or 2 years! Pin now and read later!

Good lighting designers can be few and far between, so if you have the time, start your outreach 5-7 months prior to your wedding date. Pressed for time but lighting is a priority? Before selecting venues to tour, be sure to find out exactly what they offer and definitely what they allow. Give priority to venues with in house lighting designers in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

Other décor like furniture rentals, linens and signage can frequently be combined with your other vendors’ services. Check with your florist for their rental list and your stationery designer for signage. Bonus: the more you book with one vendor, the better that vendor can do on their price.

Officiant

I am always majorly surprised when a couple contacts me for full service and they haven’t considered something very important: the person performing the ceremony. If you’re not getting married in a religious house, you will need an officiant to make the marriage, you know, legal.

Depending on the state you’re in, a friend and/or family member might not be able to perform this service. Truth be told that’s not always a good idea anyway, but I digress…

Since it is impossible to be in two places at the same time, officiants, especially the good ones, book up a year or two (nope, not a typo) in advance. Along with wedding gown and venue, I always make securing a wedding officiant a major priority. If you’ve got the 12 months, then use them and if you’ve got more, use those too.

But if you’re working with much less, use whatever you have. To speed up the process, ask for recommendations from your married friends and family, get on google, talk to your venue about their vendors…basically do whatever you have to do and get this done.

This can be time consuming because yes, you will actually need to meet with these people. A skype or phone call won’t cut it here and officiants tend to be busy on weekends with…wait for it…weddings. If possible, block out a weekday and meet with a handful all on the same day. To narrow your choices down, look for or ask for videos of the officiants presiding over weddings so you can see them in action.

Wedding Wardrobe for Everyone Else

Bridesmaids and groomsmen all need stuff to wear and let’s not forget the groom and sometimes parents that are looking for assistance. Just like stationery, this timing will depend on what you’re looking for and just like a wedding gown, timing depends on designers.Not sure when to tell your girls to buy their bridesmaid dresses or when the groomsmen should get their tuxes? Read now and pin later this ultimate wedding planning checklist.

I personally believe and always suggest that my brides have at least an idea of what they want their bridesmaids to wear before I set up any appointments. To save time, look into stores that have similar styles to what you want and only make appointments with them. It should also come as no surprise that weekends book up first and if you can handle this on a weekday, you’re likely to get an appointment much quicker.

The bridesmaid wardrobe process should start much earlier than you think or have been told. Got 9-10 months before your wedding? That’s perfect as some designers take 9 months to get their dresses in. Most other designers will take at least 6 months and a select few will take less. But unlike your wedding gown, you can’t grab samples of these because you likely need more than one.

If you don’t have the time, treat this like your wedding gown shopping and talk to stores in advance about what they have and how long everything takes to come in. Be transparent about the time you’re working with and visit stores with the best and most options. To really cut down on time, go to the stores to select the gown or gowns yourself and then leave it to your bridesmaids to only deal with getting measured instead of giving opinions.

For the boys, your options are renting or owning (sucks to be a bridesmaid…for now…subscribe to my YouTube Channel to find out more) and less time isn’t always a bad thing. The more traditional you’re going, i.e. black tuxes all around, the easier and less time consuming this will be. A word of caution in regard to timing and tux rentals: prom season is going to get in your way and you’ll have to factor that 1-2 month period into your planning timeline.

Should you not be going down the black tuxedo route, there’s a chance that you’ll need custom suits. If you want anything from what you think is a gray tuxedo or a blue tuxedo, or any other color, then you actually are looking for a suit. For more about that, be sure to check out my YouTube video discussing the difference between tuxedos and suits.

Custom suits require a 4 month window of time, so if you have that, you’re golden. You don’t necessarily need more than that for rentals, but if your groomsmen are spread out geographically, the more time you can give, the better. Typically, this isn’t an area of concern even with shorter engagements, but a common mistake I see here is couples leaving it as one of the last things to do.

Transportation

When to book your limos, shuttles and all transportation for your wedding day!

Limos, shuttles, party buses and magic carpets should be booked 8 months prior to your wedding or earlier if possible. Just like tuxedo rentals, prom season severely affects the availability of transportation companies. You don’t want to use multiple companies (seriously, do not do this) so it’s important to get this done early on so that you have choices.

Less than 8 months to check this off your list? You’ll likely be doing multiple vendor bookings at the same time, so add this one to the list. Save yourself some time by figuring out exactly what you need, for how long and from where to where. Consider how you and your fiancé will be traveling, as well as your wedding party and any immediate family including parents and grandparents.

If you want to provide transportation for your guests, booking shuttles is the way to go. These vehicles vary from 14 passenger vans to 55 passenger buses and should be booked early with the rest of the vehicles. Before you commit to transportation for your guests from a separate company, you should talk to your hotel block about their options. Speaking of which…

Hotel Blocks

9 times out of 10, and I actually think it’s more like 10 times out of 10, I set up hotel blocks for my couples. This might seem like something that can be done quickly, but take my word that it can be fairly complicated.

Because I like to handle transportation 9-10 months prior to the wedding and some of the transportation will be affected by a hotel block, I do these at the same time. I give automatic priority to hotels that offer shuttle service in house and that don’t have a financial obligation.

Unfortunately, both of these things have become close to extinct which only means you will need more time to find these dinosaurs in the first place.

If you’re not looking to shuttle your guests on the wedding day and you have only a few months to plan, typically 4-5 months out will be good enough to set up a block. It’s important to note that most blocks expire a full month before your wedding though. If you’re getting married around the holidays or other “hotel worthy” dates like Valentine’s Day, President’s Day Weekend, etc. then set up your block as soon as possible.

I mentioned that setting up a hotel block isn’t as easy as it seems and besides not being easy, it tends to be frustrating. Your time will be consumed with finding out the policy of each hotel and if you want to actually speak with someone there, good luck as they all hold typical 9-5, Monday through Friday hours.

A great way to save time and avoid a massive headache that will turn any normal bride into a zilla, is to use a service that does it for you. There are plenty available out there, but when I’m not handling the blocks myself, I like to use “Where Will The Stay?”. You can hear more about them and what they can do on my favorites segment here! Oh, and it’s free.

Hair and Make-Up

It probably feels like I am suggesting to do everything immediately if you’re getting married in less than a year. If it doesn’t feel that way yet, it’s about to.

When to hire your hair stylist and make up artist for your wedding day.

Hair and Make-Up services are something I try to book 6-8 months out if the couple has the time. Stylists book up quickly and are majorly affected by peak wedding season. Ideally, you’ll be hiring a company that will bring multiple hair and make-up stylists on the day of the wedding for the bride, bridesmaids and anyone else who needs it.

It’s important to leave time for a trial which you can have before booking or after…though I typically recommend before. Trials are another one of those “weekdays are better” things since stylists are busy with weddings and working in general on the weekends.

With limited time, consider hiring someone you have worked with before and see if they are able to put a team together. I would also recommend asking your photographer if they recommend anyone since it’s not a horrible idea to book these two vendors at the same time.

The Other Stuff You Didn’t Think Of (But I Did Because It’s My Job)

Everything I have discussed so far covers the basics that every wedding day needs. But what about those weddings that take place at venues with in-house nothing or just in-house a few things? What do you book when?

Outside Food and Beverage

If you’re dreaming of a “grow your own venue” deal where you get to bring in an outside caterer, then get ready to plan this 9-12+ months out. This falls in line with when you would book a venue since many venues include food as one of those essential things. Plus, when you bring in this outside service, you might need things to put the food on like plates and silverware and glassware is always nice to offer your guests.

More than 12 months to plan or at least 9 months and you’re in a good position to have choices available. Wrenches will get thrown into your planning timeline here around the holidays when caterers are super busy and wedding season can be a tough time to pin them down as well. You should consider that when deciding when to start the search.

When to book your wedding venue and everything else when wedding planning. Pin now and read later.

In general, I would recommend to couples with limited time to use a venue with as much stuff included as possible. But the heart wants what it wants right? Put this at the top of your list of things to do regardless and save time by asking for referrals from the venue you book as well as from friends and family.

Get on the same page with your fiancé in regard to type of food and style (sit down, buffet, etc.) that you want before making any phone calls. Liquor laws vary from state to state, so make sure you know if BYOB is an option or if your caterer will have to provide the liquor and only talk to caterers that can handle playing by the rules. To save even more time, work with caterers that will handle bringing in tables, chairs, linens and all of the basics so you don’t have to rent anything.

Restroom Trailers

Barns and farms are great (they are, don’t be a hater) but very few have indoor plumbing which means bringing in restroom trailers. These should be booked at least 5-6 months out, so a short engagement doesn’t usually pose a problem here. When searching for venues, find out whom they recommend (they should absolutely be able to tell you this) and what their electrical and water hook-ups are like. The trailer companies will need this information to give you pricing and let you know if they can even handle the venue’s property.

Cigar Rollers, Photobooths, and Other Fun Vendors

Novelty vendors such as these are a dime a dozen, though the best are frequently booked up in advance. Many of my couples don’t decide that they want vendors from the “fun” category until we’re within 6 months or so of their wedding. By that time, it comes down to having some extra money in the budget or suddenly realizing they always wanted something. I’ve never had an issue booking that close to the wedding date, so don’t panic if you’re tight on time.

Honeymoon

Saving the best for last, I always recommend a travel agency for my couples to work with for their honeymoon needs. Of course, I am able to make recommendations, but for truly personal attention and to save time, working with a travel agency is the best way to go.

I don’t handle this until about 6 or 7 months prior to the wedding date, but if I’m able to, I will get it done earlier. Travel agents frequently have conferences throughout the year and if they are away, they won’t be able to get back to you quickly. Put together a wish list of places if possible and find an agency that has specialists.

If you’re not working with a travel agent or if you’re going to honeymoon during a popular vacation time such as spring break or the holidays, start the process 7 months out. Not possible? Consider having flexible travel dates if you can and try to give yourself a minimum of 4 months before the wedding date.

Another option and one than many of my couples explore, is taking the honeymoon a few months past the wedding date. This gives them and can give you extra time to pull this all together either with an agency or on your own.

Wrapping Up

When to book everything when planning your wedding. The ultimate guide for engaged couples. Pin now and read later!

I know there are countless wedding planning timelines available to you and many come in a pretty printable template too. But wedding planning isn’t easy, which you may already be finding out. There are times of the year to always be aware of and in general, the more time you have, the better.

Unlike all of the timelines out there, I am completely aware that no two engagements are the same and 12 month timelines doesn’t always exist for everyone. You can’t book your venue 9-12 months out with less than 6 months to plan. I hope my wedding planner secrets gave you ideas on how to increase the time you do have instead of working with the time you don’t.

Are you planning a wedding with less than a year to get it all done? What advice do you have for other couples with short engagements? Share what you’ve done or what you wish you had done differently in the comments section below!

 

Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year and Ways to Use it in Your Wedding

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, I was pumped. Seriously, I was like way excited. Maybe it was because the past few years I have been less than thrilled with the selection. Maybe it was because I loved using that color and already had ideas.

Or maybe it was because I placed a bet in October on what the color would be and won.

Whatever the reason, I was (and am) super happy that Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is “greenery”. Yes, that is a color and you can read all about it on Pantone’s official website right here.

Greenery: New Year, New Beginnings

Greenery symbolizes new beginnings in the same way the green leaves in spring time do. I love using green in wedding and event designs because there is so much you can do. [tweetshare tweet=”There is a greenery for every bride and all styles of weddings.” username=”RothweilerEvent”] In fact, it’s more than just a color. It’s a feeling.

In this blog I am sharing a few ways I have used Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year in the hopes to inspire you for your wedding day. Don’t forget to pin the photos you love the most and comment the ways you’ll incorporate Pantone 2017 Color of the Year!

Boho chic greenery framing the wedding ceremony as the perfect backdropBoho Chic Ceremony Backdrop

Everyone’s seen Fern Gully right? Am I like super old and weird right now? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Fern Gully was a movie that took place in the rainforest. It was about deforestation and other depressing stuff, but the colors were bold and magical and (spoiler alert) the main characters lived happily ever after.

The whole wedding design from the beautiful colors to the heavy amount of natural greens we used reminded me of those beautiful colors from Fern Gully. The bride had a vision of hanging greens for the ceremony backdrop, and our florist created the best frame for their first married kiss.

These greens were a mix of bright and deep shades not unlike the leaves in spring that inspired Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. Putting aside the pinks, reds and oranges that made up the rest of the wedding colors and just using green for the ceremony made the space feel more intimate. There were no distractions and when the bride and groom became man and wife, it was a serene and beautiful moment.

Soft green garland wrapped around the banister for this farm wedding was made even more romantic with the addition of soft greens and pinksSoft Green Garland and Banisters

If it hasn’t become obvious yet, I am a big fan of greenery used as garland. Don’t get my wrong, I love green as a color, but my favorite way to make it work for almost any wedding is to keep it as a backdrop. That doesn’t mean it has to literally hang in the back, but more so that it supports the rest of the design.

This farm location had a barn on site and whenever I see a banister, I feel compelled to dress it up. I totally blame “Father of the Bride” for this unhealthy obsession I have.

Soft and romantic, the green garland we used here was draped around the spiral banister from top to bottom. Like the ceremony site above, it was important to create a look as if the greenery just appeared there, naturally. As if it sprouted from the iron banister magically because that’s what Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year does. The final touch here was to incorporate the other wedding flowers, so we pinned everything together with some pink roses and dusty miller.

Romantic and elegant mantle design with greenery and pops of red, blue, purple and white

Mantle Greenery Goodness

Much like a banister, if there is a mantle at a wedding location, you will find me adding “we woke up like this” style florals to it. Mantles are more than shelves for photos and many are ceremony backdrops. As a designer, I like to incorporate the design into every corner of the space, and this is a big corner.

There are countless ways to dress up a mantle at your wedding, but it’s hard to do without greenery. This picture is from a wedding venue with multiple mantles. In fact, you can see all the gorgeous details here. Each mantle was different, but they all used the greenery found in the centerpieces to tie the look together. My favorites here were the hanging amaranthus and the eucalyptus because they added dimension to the piece and still looked formal.

Long Tables With Greenery

Chic long table we designed for The Knot Market Mixer complete with greenery runner details and gold candle holders We all know that long tables are a hot trend and they have been for a few years now. These gorgeous farmhouse tables can cost a pretty penny if your venue doesn’t already have them included. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on these without robbing a bank (seriously, they ain’t cheap), then greenery garland is a must.

This table was part of our design for The Knot Market Mixer last Fall. My favorite part about designing this event is being able to create whatever I’m dreaming of. In other words, I got to do what I wanted and what designer doesn’t love that?

I wanted to create a warm and inviting tablescape and have greenery be the base of the design. Working with my florist, the garland worked as an anchor for the rest of the flowers and draped down to the floor. I’d recommend using greenery like this to any bride worried that her guests won’t see over tall centerpieces.

Speaking of Tall Centerpieces…

The garden where this wedding took place was the inspiration for the greenery found in the centerpieces. Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is all about spring and clean starts, and this centerpiece is just that.

Besides the obvious greenery pieces (you know, the green leaves), there are more subtle ones as well. While the only two colors used were white and green, that didn’t mean green leaves and white flowers only. A popular flower for centerpieces (but not for bouquets so don’t please) is hydrangea. Hydrangea comes in a bunch of colors including white and…wait for it…green!

The clean look of the clear glass vase and candleholders with the greenery and white made this garden wedding the picture of spring….even if it took place in the summer.

Lasercut signage hung from the ceiling and framed by greenery to celebrate Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year!Don’t Forget the Ceiling!

So, like, let’s all take a minute to recognize that not every piece of wedding décor is going to be at eye level. It doesn’t need to be at eye level and in fact, eye levels are different. Not that you’re inviting a bunch of NBA players to your wedding (or maybe you are and I should be planning it…) but creating designs from the floor to the ceiling makes an impact.

Signage is a huge trend and it’s not just limited to chalkboard and aisles. This lasercut sign is from our event with The Knot and is hung from fishing line. Really strong could rope in Jaws, fishing line. If you’re not onto how I work just yet, I like to make my designs appear organic. This is probably another reason why I am in love with Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. For this sign (and three others), I worked with my florist and asked them to drape greenery in a deconstructed way. I mean, it totally looks like the sign grew out of the ceiling. Score!

Floral Wall using Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year: GreeneryWedding Walls and Backdrops

The floral wall is something that is popping up all over Pinterest, and we worked with Once Wed Walls to create this one for The Knot Market Mixer. Since I have been obsessed with greenery long before it was the Pantone 2017 Color of the Year, I wanted one using green as the base. The top was covered in more greenery and pops of pinks, oranges and cream flowers to match the rest of the room.

These walls are, bottom line, really awesome. It was a natural backdrop for photos all night and everyone was talking about it. A great alternative to a blank photobooth backdrop (or a photobooth in general) is using one of these walls. Since this can be a custom piece, the wall can be made to fit like a backdrop for people and as small as a backdrop for your wedding cake. If you’re on the greenery bandwagon with me (though I’ve been driving it since like 2007), you can keep a natural look using boxwood like this.

A romantic farm wedding where we used greenery to drape around one of their beautiful horses with the brideGot Horse?

Oh those farm and barn weddings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Why should they? They totally rock. If you’ve followed my work at all, you know that I’m a big fan of non-traditional weddings. [tweetshare tweet=”Give me a mountain top and a fluffy white ballgown and I’m in.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

If you’re the bride that runs from basic bling and marble floors as fast as I do, then you’re probably considering a farm for your wedding location. Mega points to you for not being lame! More points if you find a farm with animals.

This final way to use Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year (though there are plenty more) involves a horse. We used an Icelandic horse on this farm to drape a eucalyptus wreath around and create total greenery magic. You could easily do this design on other animals including dogs, goats and alpacas too. This wreath was created on site, so it’s important to make sure your florist will have the time they need on the wedding day.

Using Greenery on Your Wedding Day

You don’t have to be on a farm to get the most out of Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. The bright green color will bring your centerpieces to life whether you choose tall or low runners. No matter how you use greenery in your wedding design, remember that the color represents new beginnings. If that’s not a good enough reason to use it on your first day as a married couple, then I’m not sure what is!

What do you think of greenery? Will you use it for your wedding? Share in the comments below your favorite idea or if you have one that we didn’t mention!